When devising a public relations strategy, the goal is always to tell our client’s story in a way that educates their potential customers and drives sales. Every once in a while, when done correctly, an agency’s public relations efforts yield accolades for the campaign itself. This happened recently at the 2021 TOCA Communication Awards (Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association) held in Denver in early September. What’s Your Avocado? Founder Stacie Zinn Roberts won First Place in the Writing a Feature Article category. The winning article, “USA Softball Hall of Fame” was created for client Sod Production Services and their product, Tahoma 31 Bermudagrass.
Public Relations Strategy for the Article
When the USA Softball Hall of Fame stadium, the home field of Team USA Olympic Softball, chose our client’s product, Tahoma 31 Bermudagrass, as the natural grass for the facility’s renovation, we knew we had an opportunity to tell a significant story. We pitched the idea to SportsField Management, the official publication of the Sports Turf Managers Association, whose members are a main target buyer for Tahoma 31. We positioned the story as a profile of the renovation. We interviewed the stadium staff and construction company to highlight how Tahoma 31 solved challenges at the facility. We also interviewed the sod producer who grew the grass to talk about preparations he made in growing the grass. The story ran in print and in digital formats. The article not only showed how the product features could help sports turf managers address issues on their athletic fields, but also associated Tahoma 31 with a high-profile and prestigious facility built for a team recognized worldwide as elite. You can’t get much more elite than a Gold Olympic Medal!
How the Judges Evaluated the Entry
Judged by a panel of marketing professionals, the judges evaluate entries on three criteria: creativity, concept, and clarity of message.
Criteria: Creativity Judges were asked to evaluate the entry with the following questions in mind: How creatively does the entry accomplish its stated purpose? Does it create excitement? The judges noted that while the headline was a bit bland (a choice of the magazine editor who ran the story), the opening of the article had a “Great lead-in.”
Criteria: Concept For this criteria, judges were asked to evaluate based on the following: Is the reasoning logical & sound? Is the concept and strategy effective? In this section, the judges remarked, “Excellent material, well organized, great use of quotes/sources, and in manageable chunks (e.g. paragraphs).—-Good overall education about the project instead of just promoting the client’s product, well done.”
Criteria: Clarity of Message: Judges were asked to consider: Is it clear? Well executed? Tell a complete story? Capture & hold interest? Judges’ comments for this criteria were, “Thorough review in a ‘feature’ format. Focused and clear.”
Overall Comments When asked to sum up their overall impression, the judges were definitive. The entry was a “Well-deserved winner.”
Why PR Matters
Awards aside, the reason to write the article in the first place was to highlight the benefits of our client’s product, Tahoma 31 Bermudagrass, to a clearly targeted audience. The magazine where the article was published, Sports Field Management, reaches 37,000 key decisionmakers at schools, universities, parks ,and athletic facilities. All of these facilities have sports fields, and most of them will need to buy grass for their fields at some point in the near future.
An article of this kind shows potential buyers that the product has credibility, helps to overcome a challenge, and is well-regarded by industry peers. It accomplishes this in a subtle way. It’s not an advertisement. It doesn’t scream bullet points or product benefits. Instead, it tells a story of how a respected facility used this product to solve a problem. We let those interviewed offer real-life testimonials that drive home our point without ever having to sell. That’s the beauty of public relations. And that’s why we love it.
If you’d like to know how your product or service could benefit from this kind of public relations approach, please give us a call at 360-428-2878 or shoot us an email. We’d love to help you publicize what makes your company or product special—Your Avocado.
If you’d like to explore your avocado on your own, download our FREE workbook here. This easy-to-follow guide will take you through a series of exercises to help you drill down to the core of your company or product’s reason for being. It will also help you to clarify your thoughts about what features and benefits you should promote in your marketing
What’s Your Avocado? Marketing & Public Relations creates strategic narrative messaging, marketing, websites, graphic design, branding, public relations, and advertising campaigns for large and small businesses. The firm serves clients nationwide, with a focus on the agricultural, turf, landscape, golf, and real estate industries. By the way, the Avocado? It’s the element that makes a person, product or company special. What’s Your Avocado? helps clients to find their Avocado and express it in the marketplace, thereby building a recognizable brand and a successful business. What’s Your Avocado? Marketing & Public Relations is based in Mount Vernon, WA. 360-428-2878, www.whatsyouravocado.com , @whatsyouravocad
Stacie Zinn Roberts is a nationally recognized, award-winning writer and marketing expert with more than 25 years of experience. She has won more than 40 national awards for her work including the United Nations Environmental Program for retail environmental marketing, as well as from organizations such at the Public Relations Society of America and the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. She’s written for industry publications such as Golf Course Management, Sports Turf, Golfdom and PR Daily. She spent eight years as the president and director of marketing for Environmental Turf, where she developed the branding for SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum, the grass that eventually became the greens grass for the Rio Olympic Golf Course. Stacie served for six years on the Board of Directors of the Florida Turfgrass Association as Chair of the Research & Scholarship Committee where she worked closely with the scientists from the University of Florida’s turfgrass breeding program. Stacie founded What’s Your Avocado? Marketing & Public Relations in 2012.